Simon Smith (who runs the BetterHumans.com web site) pauses to think about the effects of living in “eschatological” hope – in this case, waiting for some sort of techno-rapture. See Simon : Are virtual worlds inhibiting real social progress?.
But I would argue that, thanks to their sheer immersiveness, virtual worlds are qualitatively different from previous escapes, and getting more sophisticated all the time. My concern is what happens to the world while we’re waiting to upload into our digital utopias. The more realistic and appealing our virtual worlds, the more I fear people will avoid dealing with real problems. It’s certainly possible that virtual worlds will have a positive societal influence, with people trying to replicate some of their virtual experiences in real life. But I think it’s far more likely that people will increasingly seek to escape a world with poverty, sickness, social strife and other ills for one where such suffering is not only eliminated, but simply not represented because those who suffer can’t afford the cost of entry.
Related link – Greenflame: By their eschatology you shall know them.